Denison’s Westside Fire Station may soon see more than $575,000 in renovations and repairs. The move comes as Denison considers fire coverage to the west amid growth west of U.S. Highway 75.
Among the improvements proposed for the site are a full rebuild of the station’s living quarters and the demolition of the existing fire training tower, city officials said.
“The building has dilapidated to the point that we have to do something,” Denison Fire Rescue Chief Gregg Loyd said Monday.
The proposed repairs, and the future of the 1960s-era fire station, were recently discussed during conversations on the upcoming budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. If approved, the project will be added to the budget, which is set to be approved later this fall.
Loyd said the building has been in service for many years, but is starting to show its age. Among other issues, Loyd said the building has had significant plumbing issues in recent years, including the full collapse of some pipes and drains.
As such, Loyd proposed the demolition of the existing living space and the construction of a new building during a meeting with city staff last week. The construction project would not affect the existing bays, which would remain open throughout the construction.
With the rebuild of the living space, Loyd said city staff plans to create living space for six firefighters. This would also allow for separation that would allow the fire station to accommodate female personnel, Loyd said last week.
If the project is approved, Loyd said the current bid would include the costs for temporary housing for the firefighters and personnel assigned to the station. As such, the station would be able to remain in service during construction.
The other major part of the project is the demolition of the site’s fire training tower, which has seen significant damage over the years. Loyd said the tower, which has been out of service for several years, wasn’t built to the specifications needed to withstand the fires it has seen, and has seen structural decay.
Given natural wear and tear, Loyd said the building could become a safety hazard within the next few years. Loyd said the tower would not be replaced as part of the project and the department would look for outside locations to do this training.
Loyd said he knew of some locations in Texas and Oklahoma that could support training Denison firefighters. However, these options also have their limitations due to distance, and would not be able to support multi-company training scenarios. Loyd said these are important as they best simulate the situations his personnel will be in during live firefighting.
As an alternative, Loyd said he would like to form a partnership with other area agencies that would allow for the creation of a region-wide training location that could be used by multiple area departments.
With the elimination of the training tower, Loyd said he would also like to retire another training and testing feature at the fire station. The site also has a concrete vat that was previously used to test water pressure and pumps on trucks, however the department has since changed over to other equipment for this.
Loyd said it would be expensive to fully excavate and remove the cement from the site, but proposed that it instead be used as a form of landscaping or flowerbeds.
The proposed renovations come as the city is expecting growth along its western border, particularly along the FM 691 corridor west of Hwy. 75, City Manager Jud Rex said. However, Loyd said he was uncertain where the best place to build a future station would be and would prefer to see where development and growth occurs.
As such, Loyd said the city could effectively extend the lifespan of the Westside station by another 10 years in order to see where the best location will be.
“What’s really going to drive how long we stay in the station is that growth,” Loyd said.
While looking at the interim, Rex said the city could ensure continued service to the west through renovations to the existing station at minimal cost to the city. By comparison, Rex said it would cost closer to $4 million to build a new facility.
“If we were looking at a new station now, we would be looking at a lot more money and a new location,” Rex said.